Too Much Time on Your Hands: A Mini-Essay

I think most of us are guilty of uttering the phrase “that person has too much time on their hands.”

It could be prompted by any number of things: a Youtube video that splices clips of a politician’s speech so they are speaking the lyrics to a pop song, an exact replica of Denmark made in Minecraft, or a person dressing up in costume to reenact a scene from a movie.

I’ve been guilty of thinking the same thing whenever I’ve been browsing the socials while getting ready for work.

I don’t believe this statement is made in malice most of the time. It’s simply an observation made by minds made cynical by the “real world.”

Some blame this view on capitalism and the societal belief that any moment not spent in the pursuit of capital gain is somehow wasted, but I take a different view.

I believe that, as we get older, time passes like sand through a sieve. We never have time to do all the tasks that need doing. Most of us go to work, tend to the children, make our meals, sink into bed and then start the whole process over again. Even our weekends are taken up by chores we neglected during the workweek, or grocery shopping, or some other boring task that needs doing.

Every scrap of time we have is precious and so when we see someone using that precious commodity on pointless ventures it raises a certain amount of jealousy in us.

If we had that kind of time, we would use it better. We would clean out our gutters, we would sweep the floors, trim our trees, etc.

But…would we really?

Is the time someone else spent making a life-size model of Darth Vader out of play-dough any less productive than us burning an entire weekend watching crime docu-dramas on Netflix?

Is someone else playing “An Ode to Joy” using nothing but mason jars somehow less noteworthy than our boring day-trip to Hobby Lobby to collect even more pictures we will be too lazy to hang?

Perhaps we have been too harsh on these people.

In a world where are brains are slowly being turned to mush by technology, maybe we should just be grateful imagination and ingenuity are still a thing.

Creating a long train of dominos won’t put a scrap of silver in anyone’s pocket, but if it keeps people’s minds busy, I don’t think there is any real harm in it. Life is hard and sometimes people just need a creative outlet to keep the voices in their head silenced for a couple of hours.

Maybe it brings people joy to know that there are other people out there living their lives and being happy with simple tasks, even though it seems a dark and dull place. Seeing someone else find joy in “time wasting nonsense” might encourage them to find a productive outlet of their own.

2 thoughts on “Too Much Time on Your Hands: A Mini-Essay

  1. Yeah, for the most part, I agree. “Too much time on your hands” means “I think that activity you are doing is stupid.”

    And people, especially when they are young, need to do stupid activities. (I mean, within reason.) It helps their minds rest, grow, be creative, develop skills that will break out suddenly and with unexpected benefits elsewhere.

    And when you are young, it really does feel like you have infinite time.

    Liked by 1 person

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